Daily Archives: October 3, 2014

Friday Evening Videos: “Somebody Like You”

She was a high-school boy’s dream and my mother’s worst nightmare, a five-foot-three gymnast who styled herself after the “Like a Virgin”-era Madonna. I can’t remember how or when we first met — in fact, I really only remember a handful of moments I shared with her — but there was chemistry between us.

Unfortunately, there were a lot of other things between us, too, and somehow that blistering-hot love affair that I always felt certain was about to take off… didn’t. Oh, we tried to get together. But one or the other of us was always dating someone, or just recovering from breaking up with someone, or the timing was otherwise off somehow. And there were other things as well that I really should keep to myself. Let’s just leave it with we tried. Oh brother, did we try! We flirted and we enjoyed the crackle in the air when the other was around, and occasionally when that electric buzzing got to be too much to ignore, we grabbed each other and ducked into a dark corner to see how breathless we could make each other before the next bell rang, and we really didn’t care if we were supposedly going with someone else. And then one day she caught up to me in the middle of a class period, when the halls were empty and we both should’ve been someplace else, and she delivered the news that she was moving away… the final obstacle that we would never be able to overcome. We kissed and necked a little, and as I remember it, we even cried a bit for the love that we’d never quite found together. And then she was gone.

It felt like we’d had a relationship, and it felt like we were breaking up. But in fact, we’d only managed to go on one actual date. I took her to see 38 Special when they played Salt Lake’s old Salt Palace Arena during the band’s 1986 Strength in Numbers tour. There was a lot of pot being smoked in the arena that night, and even though neither of us imbibed directly, I remember feeling giddy all during the show, and for hours afterward, even after I got home and was alone in my room with my ringing ears. I’ve always blamed the secondhand, but maybe it was really the feeling of being young and alive. Maybe it was the feeling of being with her.

Funny how a melody or even just a simple guitar chord can bring back so much of something you experienced for a brief time 30 years in the past. The big hit from Strength in Numbers was a song called “Like No Other Night,” but I always preferred the album’s second single, “Somebody Like You,” with its relentlessly catchy, upbeat throughline. It came up on my iPod today while I was out of the office for my afternoon walk. The early-autumn sunshine was warm and mellow on my face, and I felt my speed picking up to the song’s beat and my hands unconsciously beginning to strum an invisible guitar. And then I started lip-synching the lyrics that I recall singing along with the band when they played the song in 1986. I remember singing it for the girl in the Madonna-style lace gloves and bangles as she swayed at my side. And I remember singing it to her again after the show, in the leather-upholstered privacy of my monstrous old 1970 T-Bird as we waited for the parking lot to clear out.

I couldn’t find a traditional music video for the song, and I’m wondering if perhaps there wasn’t one made. But the one I did find is probably a better choice anyway, because it gives a flavor of the performance I saw that night so long ago and still remember so fondly:

 

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Land of the Paranoid

Andrew Sullivan echoes some of my own thinking about the mood of the country these days:

America, my adopted home, is a place of wonder, of energy, of enterprise, of compassion, of risk and diversity. But it is now and always has been a place where deep-seated fear and paranoia have always simmered below the surface – where McCarthyism once stalked the land, where recent hysteria justified the American president authorizing appalling torture of hundreds of people (with complete impunity), where civil liberties were shredded in a period when more people were killed by lightning than by terrorism, where refugee children as young as eight or nine are treated as terrible dangers to the republic, where undocumented immigrants are left in permanent limbo and where legal immigrants are treated as threats first and assets second, and where our leaders, whom one might expect to calm the public, instead fan the flames of panic for short-term political gain.

 

The great achievement of those maniacs in Iraq and Syria is to have ignited this strain in American life, exploited the PTSD of 9/11, and brilliantly baited this country into another unwinnable, bankrupting war which will only deepen the polarization that leads to more terror – a war in which what’s left of democratic accountability and constitutional norms are once again under threat. I see no one in our elites, including the president, doing anything to calm this down. And I see a Republican landslide coming in the Congress this fall, with all the consequences of more war and more hysteria ahead.

 

Welcome to America, no longer the land of the free or the brave, but the land of the paranoid and terrified. I haven’t felt this glum since the Bush-Cheney years. Because, it appears, they never really ended.

 

I don’t know about Sully’s prediction of a Republican landslide. Given my philosophies, I would of course consider that a very bad thing. But the truth is I’m not following the campaign news very closely — frankly the last six years have left me pretty exasperated with political chatter, and I find myself skimming instead of actually reading it more and more these days — so I really have no idea which way that wind is blowing. However, I agree with the rest of his statement. I do detect a renewed level of anxiety in the air that, for a time anyhow, seemed to be on the wane, and which I hoped would dissipate entirely before the end of the current president’s term.

I should’ve known better. I should’ve been wiser than to hope that this country, this culture, might somehow claw its way back to something resembling the normalcy — or whatever passed for it, at least — that we enjoyed prior to 9/11/2001. But there are too many forces out there that profit too much from everybody being constantly nervous — politicians wanting to score points against their rivals, news media wanting to attract eyeballs, and God knows who else — and they’re not going to allow us to go back.

Conservatives are fond of saying they want their country back. Well so do I… a country that believed FDR when he said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” A country that wasn’t constantly itching to bomb the shit out of something just to make ourselves feel “safer.” A country where we didn’t willingly subject ourselves to all manner of indignities just to get on a damn airplane, and there weren’t cameras all over the place watching us constantly, and where the cops looked more like Andy Taylor than Imperial stormtroopers.

I’m sick to death of the fear and fear-mongering that infest our culture. Fear of everything from perverts kidnapping our kids if we don’t watch them every second to hackers stealing our precious data to brown people sneaking across the border to kill us in our sleep. I’m sick of the xenophobia and the homophobia and the conspiracy theories and the way everybody ends up being compared to Hitler. I’m sick of the constant drumbeat of murder on television — how many forensic procedurals are on the air right now anyhow? We’re afraid to go out in the sun or to eat the food we buy at the grocery store or breathe the air in the wintertime. We’re afraid we’re too strict with our kids, or too lenient. We’re afraid of what might happen when we get old, whether we’ll have to eat catfood to survive. And now we have the Ebola crisis to be afraid of too. I’m already seeing hysterical nonsense on Facebook about the disease being airborne — pro tip: it’s NOT — and how we’re all going to die (no, we’re NOT). Is it any wonder than I live in a more-or-less permanent state of nostalgia? Yeah, we were afraid of Global Thermonuclear War back in the ’80s, but I think most people managed to hold it together most of the time. Now it seems like everybody’s losing their shit pretty much constantly. And that’s just plain exhausting.

Honestly, I hate the 21st century. What I wouldn’t give to be debating over presidential blowjobs again.

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